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Medical Edge: Blood technology

Updated: Thursday, December 18 2014, 03:21 PM EST
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- Surgeons at Cincinnati Children's Hospital got some high tech help lowering complications from blood transfusions during and after surgery.

When extra blood was needed during surgery Doctor Mario Patino, a  pediatric anesthesiologist, said it was a delicate balance.  Patients needed to be given the right amount through a transfusion but too much or too little was not a good thing.

Dr. Patino was part of a team among the first in the nation to use new technology to sense if more blood was needed for a patient in surgery.

Dr. Patino said, "This technology works with this sensor."
The sensor wrapped around a patient's finger during surgery and was connected to a machine.  Wavelengths of light provided information about SPHB, or hemoglobin in the blood during surgery.  It's the iron rich  protein that carries oxygen to the lungs and the rest of the body.

"It helps us to decide, 'I think the hemoglobin is dropping and I need to transfuse,' or 'It's stable and I don't have to do anything.'"

Patino's team can make that decision with information received through the simple touch of a button.  This technology created was referred to as 'rainbow technology' by some.  It has seven wavelengths of light that actually gave them continuous information about the blood.  In the end the goal was to reduce infection and other complications from blood transfusions.  Doctors said it could make a critical difference in the outcome of surgical procedures.

One study found when providers estimated the amount of blood needed it was often 40 percent higher than the blood actually lost by a patient in surgery.  The technology helped take the guess-work out of it.

The technology can also help save money.  Each unit of blood transfused can costs between $500 to $1,000; a cost that could add unnecessary expense.

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